Those in attendance at the welcoming party got to participate as the Otha Day Drum Circle kicked off the event.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A new incubator space for the Morningside area is now open.
The Tyler Street Lab is now open at 730 Tyler St. The building houses offices for a number of community organizations and serves as a one-stop shop for people to access whatever they need, whether that be business assistance or community services.
The lab is funded by MassDevelopment's Transformative Development Initiative and headed by the newly formed Tyler Street Collaborative.
"The Tyler Street Collaborative is people from the community who have ideas and want to try to those ideas out. This is an incubator space for those ideas. If you came in and said you had an entrepreneurship idea, we'll try to help you get the resources, get it up and running," said Morningside Initiative Chairwoman Kate Lauzon.
Currently occupying the space includes Youth Alive, the Morningside Initiative, the NAACP with its first local office in decades, the Goodwill, Rose and Cole Transportation, the Hope Seed Collaboration through Manos Unidas, Nicholas Russo organizing community bike events, and Lauzon's daughter who is a local artist and leads peer groups regarding addiction and mental health issues.
There are also two flex spaces for anybody or group to rent out an office for a certain day/days or hours.
Beyond those specific offices, more than a dozen of local programs and services will use it as a base. It will serve as a place for those in the Morningside neighborhood to get connected to the various organizations operating in the area for basically anything they would need. The space opened on Saturday with a "welcoming party" featuring music and dance.
The idea has been two years in the making. The various groups had all been in existence and when MassDevelopment organized the Better Block event, they all came together. And it worked. The event went off without a hitch.
"We are very diverse here. We have a Latino population. We have NAACP here. We have after-school programs. We are all working together. It shows the community that we can work together," Lauzon said.
The groups continued conversations and collective efforts and eventually were awarded a grant from MassDevelopment to open the lab. The city has been part of the TDI program for a few years as it pushes toward revitalizing Tyler Street and the surrounding neighborhood. The lab is just the next extension into those efforts.
The kick-off event was well attended by the organizations, community members, and city officials. The space is eyed as a collaborative working space for numerous initiatives taking place in the Morningside neighborhood.
Lauzon said even if somebody is outside of that district, they're still welcome.
"We are welcoming to everybody. If you aren't from the TDI Morningside area, you can still come here. We're not going to turn you away. It is a great placement for Morningside but we want everybody included," she said.
The group got access to the space in January and the grant pays for it to operate until the end of June.
"It took a lot to get the space up and running. The sweat equity was ourselves. We did all the painting, the furniture, we brought all the stuff in here. A lot of the collaborators put their own money into this on top of having to pay rent," Lauzon said.
MassDevelopment remains the main funding source and is actively involved in the lab. But Lauzon doesn't have certainty that the state will continue to fund it in the next fiscal year. Nonetheless, the Tyler Street Collaborative believes they will be able to take over if and when MassDevelopment leaves the picture.
"We're fundraising. If we don't have the money for the overhead, for the rent, we're not going to be able to continue this," Lauzon said.
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